In this presentation I will talk about the design of scalable recommender systems and its similarity with advertising systems. The problem of generating and delivering recommendations of content/products to appropriate audiences and ultimately to individual users at scale is largely similar to the matching problem in computational advertising, specially in the context of dealing with self and cross promotional content. In this analogy with online advertising a display opportunity triggers a recommendation. The actors are the publisher (website/medium/app owner) the advertiser (content owner or promoter), whereas the ads or creatives represent the items being recommended that compete for the display opportunity and may have different monetary value to the actors. To effectively control what is recommended to whom, targeting constraints need to be defined over an attribute space, typically grouped by type (Audience, Content, Context, etc.) where some associated values are not known until decisioning time. In addition to constraints, there are business objectives (e.g. delivery quota) defined by the actors. Both constraints and objectives can be encapsulated into and expressed as campaigns. Finally, there there is the concept of relevance, directly related to users' response prediction that is computed using the same attribute space used as signals.
As in advertising, recommendation systems require a serving platform where decisioning happens in real-time (few milliseconds) typically selecting an optimal set of items to display to the user from hundreds, sometimes thousands or millions of items. User actions are then taken as feedback and used to learn models that dynamically adjust order to meet business objectives.
This is a radical departure from the traditional item-based and user-based collaborative filtering approach to recommender systems, which fails to factor-in context, such as time-of-day, geo-location or category of the surrounding content to generate more accurate recommendations. Traditional approaches also fail to recognize that recommendations don't happen in a vacuum and as such may require the evaluation of business constraints and objectives. All this should be considered when designing and developing true commercial recommender/advertising systems.
Joaquin A. Delgado is currently Director of Advertising Technology at Intel Media (a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corp.), working on disruptive technologies in the Internet T.V. space. Previous to that he held CTO positions at AdBrite, Lending Club and TripleHop Technologies (acquired by Oracle). He was also Director of Engineering and Sr. Architect Principal at Yahoo! His expertise lies on distributed systems, advertising technology, machine learning, recommender systems and search. He holds a Ph.D in computer science and artificial intelligence from Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan.